Economic Aryanization in Northern Transylvania, 1940-1944: Intentions, Considerations, and Realities Cover Image
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Economic Aryanization in Northern Transylvania, 1940-1944: Intentions, Considerations, and Realities
Economic Aryanization in Northern Transylvania, 1940-1944: Intentions, Considerations, and Realities

Author(s): Linda Margittai
Subject(s): History
Published by: Institutul National pentru Studierea Holocaustului din Romania ELIE WIESEL
Keywords: Hungary; Northern Transylvania; Aryanization; economic nationalization; ethnic policy

Summary/Abstract: This article discusses the shaping and implementation of the economic Aryanization policies of the Hungarian governments with regard to Northern Transylvania, a region that was re-annexed from Romania to Hungary in 1940 and remained so until the end of the Second World War. In the anti-Jewish regulations introduced from 1938 on, the Hungarian govern ments’ fundamental aim was to treat the symptoms of the country’s economic and social problems rather than introduce hard solutions. Thus, the goal was to reduce the “excessive” social and economic influence of the Jews by transferring properties and positions held by Jews to ethnic Hungarians. Decision-makers, however, understood that a poorly thought total Aryanization process would entail serious economic disruption. Until Nazi Germany’s occupation of Hungary in March 1944, the authorities across the country generally insisted on a relatively careful implementation of the economic Aryanization plans. In Northern Transylvania, like the other multi-ethnic borderlands Hungary re-annexed with Axis support, antisemitic Aryanization efforts took place in the context of a wholesale re-Magyarization of society and economy, that targeted both Jews, and members of other ethnic minorities. In these re-annexed regions, the special administrative, political, and social conditions also allowed for harsher antisemitic initiatives than those implemented in the mother-country. This article focuses on the Hungarian governments’ plans to carry out, based on a compre hensive procedure, the so-called “vetting of business licenses”, a large-scale Aryanization/ nationalization of Northern Transylvania’s commerce and industry and discusses the economic and social constraints decision-makers faced in implementing this program. Its scope of reducing the economic share of the Jews in Northern Transylvania carried beyond the usual course of economic Aryanization in the mother-country. In these plans, the Hungarian government also targeted ethnic Romanians initially, but eventually refrained from introducing an openly anti-Romanian procedure, in order to avoid aggravating political tensions with Romania. At the same time, the government also knew that wholesale efforts to eliminate the role of the Jews would undermine the region’s economy. Decision-makers, for instance, drew lessons from the “unsuccessful” radical Aryanization experiments that had been initiated in regions re-annexed before Northern Transylvania. The liquidation of Jewish businesses in Northern Transylvania was also often stymied by a lack of competent ethnic Hungarian replacements and by the fact that the authorities did not want to strengthen the economic positions of the members of other non-Hungarian minorities.

  • Issue Year: VII/2015
  • Issue No: 08
  • Page Range: 111-136
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: English